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Published on: Grammar

The Simplest Way to Understand Spanish Regular Verb Conjugation

One of the first things you need to learn in any language is how to use verbs. And Spanish is no different.

There are specific rules and patterns when using Spanish verbs, and the changes you make to these verbs are called conjugation.

The Spanish verb conjugation is essential to the language, and the sooner you master it, the quicker you’ll start speaking like a native.

So, in this article, we’re going to be going over everything you’ll need to know about the basics: Spanish regular verb conjugations in the present tense.

What Are Spanish Subject Pronouns

Before we get to the verbs, however, we have to first talk about the pronouns.

So, What are they?

Pronouns are words like I, you, he, she, etc. These are called subject pronouns or personal pronouns because they tell you who the sentence’s subject is. In English, they are absolutely essential.

For example, in the sentence “I eat a sandwich,” “I” is the personal pronoun which tells you who is eating the sandwich.

In Spanish, it is very similar, but with some minor changes that we’ll see later on. Here is a list of all the different pronouns that we’ll use today:

Spanish (singular) English (singular) Spanish (plural) English (plural)
Yo I Nosotros We
Tú / Vos You Vosotros You / You all / Y’all
Él / Ella / Usted He / She / It / They Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes They

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Vos is principally used in many parts of Central America and Rioplatense Spanish (Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, certain parts of Chile); and Vosotros is only used in Spain, except for the Canary Islands and parts of Andalusia.

As you can see, there is an equivalent in Spanish for each of the English pronouns, plus some extras. For example, in English, we can say “They ate dinner,” but in Spanish, “they” could be “ellos / ellas,” depending on exactly who it was. So in this sense, Spanish pronouns are more specific and give a little bit more information.

For usted and ustedes, these are referred to as the formal version of the second person. This means that if you were talking to someone in a more formal context or someone you need to show respect to, you would use usted (singular) and ustedes (plural). It’s similar to English, where not everyone uses “sir/ma’am” in Spanish; there are also regional differences.

In the Americas, you can also use “ustedes” to refer to a group of people in the second person, both formally and informally. It’s like saying, “you guys / you all / y’all.”

  • Usted tiene el derecho de… – You have the right to …
  • Ustedes pueden venir cuando quieran. – You guys can come whenever you want.

So, as you can see, the grammar really isn’t all that complicated. Subject pronouns are pretty simple; it can be a little confusing initially, but that’s because there are many regional variations, and sometimes they are used a little differently than in English.

But, now that you understand the pronouns and are familiar with their equivalents in English, we can move on to the verbs.

Spanish present tense verb conjugations

In Spanish, there are three major types of regular verbs. They are categorized by the verb endings. There are verbs ending in -AR, -ER, and -IR. Depending on the verb ending, they will be conjugated differently in the present tense.

Luckily, however, the Spanish verb conjugations in the present tense are not very complicated. Let’s take a look at each type so we can learn how to conjugate Spanish verbs.

-AR ending verbs

Spanish English
Hablar To speak
Yo hablo I speak
Tú hablas You speak
Vos hablás You speak
Él / Ella / Usted habla He / She / It / You formal (singular)
Nosotros hablamos We speak
Vosotros habláis You / You all / Y’all speak
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes hablan They speak / You formal (plural)

The present tense forms for -ar ending verbs are pretty simple to understand. To conjugate, there are two easy steps. First, we look at the verb’s infinitive form, which is the version with the -ar ending. For this, we remove that -ar ending.

In step two, we add a different ending depending on the personal pronoun we want to use.

So, for example, if I want to say “I speak,” we take the infinitive of the verb hablar and remove the -ar ending. Then, we take the “yo” (I) form and add the corresponding ending -o:

  1. Hablar
  2. Hablo

 We can then do that with any of the regular verbs that have an -ar ending. All we have to do is choose the proper ending that goes with the present tense form we want to use.

  • Yo hablo muy alto. – I speak very loudly.
  • ¿Caminas por el parque mucho? – Do you walk through the park a lot?
  • Vos cantás muy bien. – You sing really well.
  • Él no toma café – He doesn’t drink coffee.
  • Llegamos tarde, ¿no? – We’ll get there late, won’t we?
  • ¿Sacáis el postre? – Will you guys get out the dessert?
  • Andan mucho en bicicleta. – They ride their bike a lot.

So as you can see, as long as the -ar verb is regular, all you have to do is swap out the ending according to the subject. Some verbs are irregular, meaning they have a stem change or don’t follow these rules the same way, but we’ll go over that another time…

-ER ending verbs

Spanish English
Comer To eat
Yo como I eat
Tú comes You eat
Vos comés You eat
Él / Ella / Usted come He / She / It / You formal (singular)
Nosotros comemos We eat
Vosotros coméis You / You all / Y’all eat
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes comen They eat / You formal (plural)

As you can see, Spanish verb conjugations with -ER ending verbs in the present tense are very similar to the -AR verbs’ conjugation patterns.

In fact, the only difference is that for each of the regular verbs’ endings, you use the same pattern and replace all the A’s with E’s. So even though these Spanish verbs have different endings, they shouldn’t be too difficult to remember.

Conjugating the -ER and -IR verbs is relatively easy in the present tense, especially since they are not too different from -AR verbs. For example, the yo form for -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs is exactly the same.

  • Como mucha verdura. – I eat a lot of vegetables.
  • No bebes suficiente agua. – You don’t drink enough water.
  • ¿Corrés mucho? – Do you run a lot?
  • Ella vende sus productos online. – She sells her products online.
  • Los humanos tememos la muerte. – We humans fear death.
  • Aprendéis muy rápido. – You guys learn really quickly.
  • No comprenden el concepto – They don’t understand the concept.

-IR ending verbs

Spanish English
Vivir To live
Yo vivo I live
Tú vives You live
Vos vivís You live
Él / Ella / Usted vive He / She / It / You formal (singular)
Nosotros vivimos We live
Vosotros vivís You / You all / Y’all live
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes viven They live / You formal (plural)

The verb endings for -IR verbs are similar to -ER verbs in the present tense. In fact, the only difference is in the vos, nosotros, and vosotros forms. In these cases, the “e” from the -ER verbs get replaced with an I.

Which honestly makes a lot of sense considering the infinitive form of the verbs. In the end, conjugating Spanish present tense verbs is simple, especially for the regular verbs. However, it does start to get more complicated when we begin to look at irregular verbs.

But for today, we can focus on learning how to conjugate regular verbs.

  • Jaja, me parto – Haha, I’m dying. (of laughter)
  • ¿Vives por aquí? – Do you live around here?
  • ¿Compartís el piso con alguien? – Do you share the apartment with anyone?
  • Ella escribe muy bien. – She writes very well.
  • Subimos a por las cosas. – Let’s go up and get our things.
  • ¿Os unís al plan? – Will you all join up with the plan?
  • Reciben muchas quejas. – They receive a lot of complaints.

How to use the regular Spanish verbs

Now that you know how to form these verbs in the present tense, you now need to learn when to use them and in what context.

The Spanish present tense is slightly different from English and can be used in additional contexts that you can’t in English. For example, one of the most significant differences is using the present tense to ask for favors or requestor to talk about the immediate future in Spanish.

  • ¿Me pasas la sal? – Can you pass me the salt?

Notice that you have to use can / will in English, but you can only use the present simple in Spanish.

You can also use the Spanish present tense to talk about things that will happen in the immediate future.

  • Acabo de comer y después te ayudo. – I’ll finish eating and then I’ll help you.

Basically, if you can use the present simple in English, you can use it in Spanish. The difference is that the Spanish present tense gets some extra uses, as well.

Dropping Spanish Subject Pronouns

There’s one last thing you may have noticed: not every sentence has pronouns. That’s because, in the Spanish language, conjugating Spanish verbs gives you information about the pronoun. For example, if you say “Vivo aquí,” it’s understood that you’re using the first person because the -o ending is always for the yo form.

It would be the same thing if I said “habla demasiado,” it’s understood that it’s in the third person because of the verb ending.

For that reason, when speaking and writing in Spanish, you only need to include the pronoun if it would be unclear otherwise or if you start talking about someone else.

  • Ella vive en el centro pero él vive en la costa
  • “Nosotros tomamos vino muy a menudo”.
    “ Yo no lo tomo, prefiero otras bebidas”.

The first one talks about two different people in the third person, so it was necessary to add the pronoun to add clarity. In the second scenario, the second person adds the “yo” in a conversation because the subject changes, so it is necessary. Although it’s understood that “tomo” is in the first person if you don’t use the different pronouns, the first speakers might think the second speaker didn’t understand, and it would sound very unnatural to them.

Use what you learned

Now you’ve taken your first steps into learning how to conjugate Spanish verbs… congratulations! This journey might take you a while because it feels unnatural in the English Language.

The thing is:

Conjugating in Spanish is one of the most challenging parts for learners initially, so make sure you study hard!

The next step is to learn all the irregular verbs and stem-changing verbs before moving on to other grammar tenses.

The best way to memorize these forms is by writing or speaking to someone. Have fun trying to put this into practice. If you don’t have anyone to practice with, we invite you to try a free private class or a 7-day free trial of our group classes and see why thousands of students trust SpanishVIP!

See you next time!

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